How To Be an Awesome Person on Social Networks

After spending a little time scouring “I’m Not A Racist But” and “I’m Not A Sexist But“, I came to the conclusion that I have excellent online friends. I wrote them a little love note to explain why.

Stuff My Online Friends Do Not Do:

  1. Whine about Black History Month and wonder when White History Month is (that would be ALL the months, dicks)
  2. Whine about International Women’s Day and wonder when International Men’s Day is (that would be ALL the days, dicks)
  3. Whine about Women’s Studies courses in universities while wondering why there are no Men’s Studies courses (those are called History courses, dicks)
  4. Tell “sandwich” and “kitchen” jokes about women
  5. Tell sexist jokes in general (and yes, that would include “dumb guy” jokes)
  6. Tell jokes making fun of people from particular countries (i.e. Polish jokes) or religions (i.e., Jewish jokes) or races (i.e., jokes about Asian people)
  7. Fail to notice sexism in advertising (i.e., more than one FB friend has griped that while Axe commercials are bad and sexist towards both women and men, commercials that depict dads who can’t handle diapers or make healthy adult dietary choices or which show men making foolish financial choices while being scolded by women are also bad, and adverts using women as nothing more than props or sex objects are gross as well)
  8. Complain about a bad driver while making sure to specify that the driver is (pick one): black, Asian, or female.
  9. Complain about women in traditionally male-dominated fields; in fact, many of you ARE women in male-dominated fields
  10. Blame someone’s stupid behavior on their sex or race. Sometimes people are just not smart.
  11. Get grossed out by non-traditional partnerships or parents or people who express their sex or gender in non-traditional ways or people who define their sex or gender in non-traditional ways or people who choose not to define their sex or gender at all
  12. Try to explain your distaste for something by explaining it is due to someone’s race or sex / gender (e.g., “all women’s sports suck, because…women!” or “all rap music sucks, because…black people!” or, when pointing out a particular male acting badly, saying “all men suck!”)
  13. Get bent out of shape when someone expresses a lack of interest in having children. Instead, you guys are accepting of other people’s choices to have or not have children.
  14. Comment that “all” people of a certain religion are in some way the same.
  15. Comment that “all” people who are not religious are in some way the same.
  16. Show a lack of compassion for people with mental illness or disabilities.
  17. Show disdain for people in a lower social class than yourself. If anyone pokes fun of anyone in a particular social class, you can bet that they poke fun of people in other social classes as well (I’m thinking of certain folks who enjoy “People of Wal*Mart” videos as much as they enjoy “Bizarre Rich WASP people” news stories). It is not specifically their social class that is being mocked or shamed.
  18. Express a belief that being able to afford certain material goods makes someone better than someone else.
  19. Make comments about how “all” people of a certain race or sex / gender / orientation are the same, in a negative way. On “I’m Not A Racist But” and “I’m Not A Sexist But” you will find comments about how all X people “smell bad,” “talk too loudly,” “steal stuff,” “are criminals,” “are stupid,” “can’t drive,” “don’t belong in academia,” “are lazy,” “dress badly,” “can’t play sports,” “can’t operate electronic technology,” “have bad taste,” “eat gross things,” and so on. I would quickly get annoyed if my FB friends were making stupid comments like those.
  20. Use sexist insults towards female politicians you disagree with. In fact, whether you have agreed with a particular female politician or not, I have noted that you are typically quick to be outraged on their behalf when they are disparaged with sexist insults.
  21. Express xenophobia or a lack of curiosity and interest in other countries and cultures.
  22. Try to excuse attachment to a symbol (like the Confederate flag) that upsets and offends others.
  23. Use the nonsense phrases “reverse racism” or “reverse sexism.”
  24.  Get butthurt when you realize you have been harboring a racist or sexist or cisgendered assumption and it is challenged; rather, this tends to lead to reflection and discussion and a vow to address and work on it
  25. Pass around images that show the female body as an object or decoration (often headless / dehumanized). At least this doesn’t happen often, I should say.
  26. Assume, when a story about a crime is circulated, that the culprit, if race is not specified, is non-white.
  27. Ignore institutional and societal biases that unfairly target the less privileged folks out there
  28. Slut shame
  29. Casually use language that is traditionally racist, sexist or otherwise generally offensive (i.e., someone “gyped” you, “nude” used to denote a shade of Caucasian skin only, “whore,” etc.)
  30. Act like raging arseholes when you disagree with each other on my Wall threads

I could go on, but reading through “I’m Not A Racist But” and “I’m Not A Sexist But” really brought it home how fortunate I am to have connected online with some truly exceptional human beings. In short, you may not like what someone has done or said, but you restrict your criticism to that specific individual. You may not like someone’s political or religious beliefs, but you do not make the mistake of damning an entire religion or political party thanks to stupid people or stupid groups of people.

We could still do a little better about not lumping all cops and all military personnel (etc) into the same category when a single LEO or service member does something awful, but, on the whole, we do pretty darn well. We’re also pretty good about not using sexually shaming epithets, too. We’re still learning a language that includes people of all genders and sexual orientations (or lack thereof) but are not deliberately ignoring or dismissing others.

It’s just a shame that it is such a rare thing that I had to notice a general LACK of assholery–because it is so uncommon and unusual–at all. It’s true, however, that I become acutely aware of this when I branch out and, for example, read the comments sections under YouTube videos or news articles. What’s “normal” for my Wall or news feed is not “normal” for the Internet as a whole.

So, we’re not perfect, but we’re trying, and we’re avoiding most of the really obviously offensive behaviors while not becoming so “offensensitive” that we can’t discuss anything at all. I’m glad about that.

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7 thoughts on “How To Be an Awesome Person on Social Networks

  1. Phyllis says:

    I’m happy we’re friends 🙂

  2. Christopher Volkstorf says:

    Hilarious! I am so glad I discovered your blog. Can’t wait to read more!

  3. Christopher Volkstorf says:

    Not a criticism, just an observation: it’s weird to me that its still acceptable to use *genitalia* or other body parts to insult others. Calling somebody a “dick” or a “pussy” or “asshole” is usually kinda sexist, isn’t it? Why is a dick or a pussy any worse an insult than calling somebody an elbow or a spleen? I blame all the brain-washed bible-thumpers, their anti-sex attitudes are too prevalent IMHO. Even just saying that something “sucks” is really a homophobic statement, at the core. Food for thought, maybe…

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